Nick Falgiatore, an MCP subject-matter expert from the radio and wireless team and a 2017 recipient of the IWCE Young Professional award, investigated a key question on the minds of many public safety officials last month in an Above Ground Level (agl) Magazine article.
The article, “What’s the Future of Land Mobile Radio in a FirstNet World?”, discusses how the nationwide broadband network being implemented by FirstNet will eventually provide mission-critical voice, but predicts that it’s a long way off. As a result, public safety officials should consider not only investing in—but also replacing, when appropriate—their land mobile radio (LMR) system.
Here’s an excerpt from the article on the speculation around whether FirstNet will replace LMR systems:
“Certainly, the suggestion to abandon legacy older LMR systems makes sense on the surface—why burn up previous financial resources on an LMR system that could be obsolete in just a few years? But a deeper dive reveals that the only prudent option for public safety radio agencies is to invest in replacement of legacy radio systems that are reaching end of life.”
You can read the entire article here. We've provided the cliff notes below, and will also discuss this topic in-depth during our upcoming webinar on Tuesday, September 25 at 2 PM ET | 11 AM ET. Register here.
- Talkaround will still be an issue: Until talkaround on the National Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN), aka FirstNet, replicates talkaround provided by LMR systems, it would be imprudent for any public safety agency to abandon its LMR system, or, at a minimum, to abandon devices that are both Long-Term Evolution (LTE) and LMR equipped.
- System hardening: The key question is whether AT&T, the commercial partner selected by FirstNet for the NPSBN implementation, will have the financial resources to harden all of its sites to public safety standards. Unless that answer is “yes,” public safety should think twice about abandoning LMR.
- Coverage: The NPSBN will make use of commercial infrastructure, which generally is concentrated in urban areas because that is mostly where the commercial customers are. While there has been talk of making the NPSBN available through nonterrestial means, its likely that public safety agencies will need LMR for the foreseeable future. However, there are some advantages LTE offers over LMR, and in some situations, an LTE system could be the better option for public safety agencies compared with LMR systems.
- Capacity: There are several considerations at play here. At this point, public safety has limited, if any, visibility into its commercial network design, which means that they’re in the dark regarding the capacity the NPSBN will provide. Other issues include how capacity is increased in an LTE network compared to LMR systems, as well as user-fees.
We’ll be discussing this topic in more detail on Tuesday, September 25 at 2:00 PM ET, and we’ll also provide some scenarios for how FirstNet and traditional land mobile radio (LMR) networks may converge in the future. Register now.